Monday, April 5, 2010
Anthony (Bingy) Arillotta was here one minute, and gone the next. The Genovese boss of Springfield, Massachusetts was arraigned here on March 24 for the mob murder of Arillotta's predecessor as chief of the crime family's Bay State rackets. But we didn't even have a chance to say hello.
The next day, Bingy disappeared from the federal lockup at the Metropolitan Correctional Center without so much as a wave goodbye to capo Arthur (Little Guy) Nigro, his onetime acting family boss who, like Arillotta, had pleaded innocent to the murder charge in Manhattan Federal Court the day before.
Arillotta's absence is something that FBI spokesman Jim Margolin and the U.S. Attorney's office won't talk about. But no one disputes the only obvious conclusion: Bingy is now batting for the other side and swinging for the fences - especially those that surround federal prisons - for the feds.
Bingy's lawyer, Thomas Butters, of Boston, did not return a call from Gang Land. In hindsight, however, the attorney's remarks to Springfield Republican reporter Stephanie Barry after Arillotta's arraignment may speak volumes about his client's apparent move to Team America: "The SHU (special housing unit) in the MCC is an experience," the lawyer told Barry, repeating what an FBI agent had told him. "It makes the SHU at the MDC (Metropolitan Detention Center in Brooklyn) look like a country club."
According to prison officials, Arillotta spent three days in the MDC, and then 10 days in the MCC, when he was officially "released." That's the technical term for it. More than likely, Bingy was moved to another location where he could be debriefed by FBI agents and federal prosecutors looking to pad their batting averages against wiseguys.
If he has gone bad - as they call it in Gang Land - according to our quick and dirty count, Arillotta would be only the fourth Genovese family wiseguy to defect since Joe (Cago) Valachi became the first to break the Mafia's vow of omerta nearly 50 years ago. For the record, Vincent (Fish) Cafaro, in 1986, and George Barone, in 2001, are the others.
Arillotta, 41, supervised the November 23, 2003 murder of capo Adolfo (Big Al) Bruno for Nigro and other New York wiseguys, according to the New York indictment and court papers filed in Springfield, where Bingy's reputed main enforcer, Fotios (Freddy) Geas, was charged with the slaying back in 2008.
Geas allegedly recruited a low-level Springfield gangster for the hit and paid him $10,000 for his efforts. Freddy was hit with federal murder charges after the gunman, Frankie Roche, fingered him as the man who paid him to whack Bruno. The 57-year-old mobster was shot to death as he left a regular Sunday night card game at a neighborhood social club that he ran.
As "Bruno came out of the social club," Roche boasted to one witness, "I walked up to Bruno and said, 'Hey Al, you looking for me?' and I popped him," according to portions of FBI reports that were filed in Springfield by Peter Ettenberg, a court-appointed Worcester attorney for Geas.
Late yesterday, as news of Arillotta's apparent defection spread like wildfire in organized crime circles, a usually reliable source told Gang Land that the feds were planning to add aging Genovese wiseguy, Pasquale (Scop) DeLuca, who is identified as a co-conspirator in the Massachusetts case, as a defendant. DeLuca, 78, is currently serving a five year prison stretch for being part of the conspiracy to murder mobster Ralph Coppola, who was killed in 1998 and whose body has never been found.
Meanwhile, Geas, who had been scheduled to go to trial in Springfield last month, is en route to New York to face the music for the Bruno murder with Nigro, along with four others who are charged only with other racketeering charges, namely gambling and loansharking.
In an unusual move, Geas asked that his case be transferred to New York. This is not something that Nigro and the lesser codefendants can possibly be happy about because it puts a defendant whom an admitted killer will point to at the same table alongside them. And the prevailing wisdom is that it's always better to go to trial alone, rather than with other accused criminals next to you.
David Hoose, a court-appointed attorney from Northampton who also represented Geas in the Massachusetts case, told Gang Land that Geas was well aware of the downside of moving his trial to New York. But "Freddy - everybody calls him that," said Hoose - and his lawyers felt that even if he were acquitted in Massachusetts, the feds in New York would find a way to charge him again, so why not go there now and be done with it.
Hoose had no real answer when Gang Land noted that if Geas beats the charges in New York, the feds in the Bay State could still opt to bring the defendant to trial there. But maybe Geas and his lawyers are on to something.
The last defendant who sought to move his trial to Manhattan Federal Court rather than go to trial out of state on murder and racketeering charges was mob prince John (Junior) Gotti. And he didn't fare too badly. And wouldn't you know it, of 41 federal judges who could have gotten the case, it was randomly assigned to the same judge who presided over Gotti's trial - P. Kevin Castel.